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Minimum Wage: What You Need To Know

Sara Newman |
June 11, 2014 | 10:18 a.m. PDT

Deputy Editor

Some states are in more desperate need for a higher minimum wage than Seattle, (Twitpic/HELPCmteDems)
Some states are in more desperate need for a higher minimum wage than Seattle, (Twitpic/HELPCmteDems)

Last week Seattle’s city council voted to set a $15 per hour minimum wage for local workers. This unprecedented wage hike resulted in wages that are more than doubled the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Like Seattle, a number of major cities—including San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Fe and San Diego—have recently implement a double-digit minimum wage. 

"If a city is raising its minimum wage by a dollar or two dollars relative to its surrounding jurisdictions, the tradeoffs aren’t that large,” Alan Berube, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program told the Washington Post. “But at six dollars, I think people will begin to sit up and take notice."

READ MORE: Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage

With Seattle’s momentous push to offer a “living wage” rather than just a minimum wage, however, more cities appear eager to increase wages even further.

On Tuesday San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee finalized a ballot measure that could increase San Francisco’s minimum wage from the current $10.74 to a Seattle-level $15 minimum wage.

“Right now it’s just about first movers… It’s probably going to occur in these elite and successful cities," said Berube. "And then it’s a question of does it try to trickle down to the next layer of cities who might be less well positioned to undertake this?”

READ MORE: Wage In Los Angeles: A Look Into Life On The Minimum Wage 

These sentiments are not restricted to just cities or even states.

For months President Obama and many members of the Senate have been attempting to rally support to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. 

According to a recent report by Oxfam America, “The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which works out to $15,080 a year for a full-time worker. That’s almost $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.”

Furthermore, according to CNNMoney's American Dream Poll, 71 percent of people surveyed supported raising the federal minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 an hour.

Yet, some people venomously oppose such proposals. 

Every one of these policies tonight makes it harder on those struggling to achieve the American Dream,” said Ted Cruz. “And I think they are wrongheaded solutions that don’t serve the best interests of the American people.”

Yet, it isn’t all that simple. A recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office suggests that boosting the minimum wage almost three dollars would boost the incomes of most low wage workers, lifting 900,000 people out of poverty, at the expense of losing 500,000 jobs.  

READ MORE: Eric Cantor Gets Whooped By Tea Party Challenger In Primary 

“I don’t have a well-crafted response on that one,” Dave Brat, economics professor and Congressional hopeful, told Chuck Todd in response to Todd’s inquiry about whether Brat thought there should be a federal minimum wage.

So congratulations, now you can sound more educated that a possible congressman the next time your boss or older sister asks what you think of the current debate over minimum wage. 

Contact Deputy Editor Sara Newman here. Follow her on Twitter here



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